For many decades, an increasing number of women have obtained
STEM doctoral degrees, however, women, particularly women of
color, continue to be significantly underrepresented in almost
all STEM academic positions. While the degree of
underrepresentation varies among STEM disciplines, women’s
advancement to senior professorial ranks and leadership roles is
an issue in all fields. The underrepresentation of women is also
a critical issue for the nation, at large, as its need to develop
a globally competitive and diverse workforce increases.
Research has shown that women’s representation and advancement in
academic STEM positions are affected by many external factors
that are unrelated to their ability, interest and technical
skills (Spencer, et al, 1999; Halpern and Tan, 2001; Hyde, 2005;
National Academy of Sciences, 2007). Such factors include,
but are not limited to: stereotype threat, societal impacts,
organizational constraints of academic institutions; differential
effect of work and family demands; implicit and explicit bias;
and lack of women in academic leadership and decision-making
positions. The cumulative effect of such diverse factors has been
to create infrastructural barriers that impact the number of
women entering, persisting and advancing in STEM careers.
Thus, the goal of the ADVANCE program is to develop systemic
approaches to increase the representation and advancement of
women in academic STEM careers, thereby contributing to the
development of a more diverse science and engineering workforce.
ADVANCE also has as its goal to seminally contribute to and
inform the general knowledge base on gender equity in the
academic STEM disciplines.
Institutional Transformation awards are expected to include
innovative and systemic organizational approaches to transform
institutions of higher education in ways that will increase the
participation and advancement of women in STEM academic
careers. These awards support comprehensive programs for
institution-wide change. Additionally, IT projects must
include studies designed to investigate theory-driven models and
innovations aimed at increasing the participation and advancement
of women in the academic STEM disciplines.
Partnerships for Adaptation, Implementation, and Dissemination
awards may focus on one institution or organization, or they may
be a partnership between several institutions and/or
organizations. PAID projects can focus on all STEM
disciplines, several disciplines, or only one discipline,
including the social and behavioral sciences.
Projects may have an international, national, regional or local
The National Science Foundation began supporting ADVANCE
initiatives in 2001, and has awarded over $130M in funding for a
variety of programs. The most significant efforts seek to create
permanent institutional transformation.